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Office of the President

Letters to Campus

August 26, 2009

Dear Faculty and Staff,

Welcome back for the Fall semester! Traffic has picked up, the lines are long at Target and Wal-Mart, and all of our students are back in the Little Apple. I want to wish you the best of success this semester.

Each year, the K-State Alumni Association selects two K-State students to serve as Alumni Ambassadors. The Student Ambassadors represent the student body at Alumni Association events throughout the state, at Kansas State University activities, and visit with prospective students and alumni. We are encouraging all of our faculty and staff to nominate deserving individuals by sending your nominations to Darchelle Martin (Dmartin@K-State.com) at the K-State Alumni Association.

For the past several years, the Office of the President has provided funding for various groups on campus for programmatic needs. In May of this past year, I asked groups that had previously received funds during the past academic year to submit proposals for the upcoming academic year with a focus on one-time needs. In future years, we will have a broader call for proposals for one-time monies from the Office of the President so that any group on campus can request funds.

I am pleased to share the following levels of support for the upcoming year:

A&S Academic Scholarship Programs — $3,500

A&S American Ethnic Studies Program — $1,500

A&S Economics — $9,000

A&S Academic Scholarship Programs —$3,500

A&S English — $20,000

A&S Geography — $3,300

A&S Institute for Military History — $5,000

A&S Journalism — $7,900

A&S Music — $9,475

A&S Bands — $15,000

A&S Jazz Programs — $3,500

A&S Philosophy — $4,400

A&S Political Science — $3,642

A&S PDM Lecture Series — $5,000

A&S Psychology — $7,682

A&S Communication Studies — $14,290

A&S Theatre Program/Debate & Forensics — $6,000

A&S KSU Theatre Guild — $1,000

A&S Women’s Studies — $500

AG Entomology (Insect Zoo) — $3,000

SALINA — $48,000

Student Alumni Board — $4,000

PRES/VPSL Military Affairs — $13,200

VPSL League of United Latin Americans — $1,000

PROVOST Diversity & Dual Career — $3,000

PROVOST Black Faculty/Staff Alliance — $1,450

PROVOST Black Student Union — $1,000


PROVOST Alianza — $2,000

PROVOST Leadership Studies — $10,100

These funds ($208,439) are slated for a variety of different uses including for seminar programs, new instructional equipment, renovations, or other one-time uses. If you have any questions on these funds, or want to have any further information, please do not hesitate to send me a note.

Last month's letter certainly generated a great deal of e-mail traffic! The general topic of marketing, communications, and branding has been the focal point of discussions I have had with many campus groups, including the faculty senate leadership team, the student governing association leadership team, the president's cabinet, the department heads, and the deans. Each group has had their own unique set of questions and concerns, but there have been several themes which have arisen among all the different groups I have met with. With this in mind, let me try and address a couple of key issues. Please envision the following conversation between Willie the Wildcat (W) and the President (P):

W: With Kansas State University facing a year of significant budgetary challenges, this seems like a poor time to add an additional senior level administrator. Thus, why do this now and not wait for better budgetary times?

P: As we go through our budgetary planning process (as sent out to campus earlier), there will clearly be some opportunities to make structural changes to the way K-State handles our marketing, branding, and communications. While it is unclear whether any structural changes will (or could) result in cost savings, it will be important to identify a person at the executive level who can help lead the formation of this unit. Thus, I believe given the challenges we have before us, this is the opportune time for us to move towards a centralized unit focused on marketing, branding, and communications.

W: What level within the university administrative ranks will this new person sit?

P: As we look at other institutions, a consolidated, senior level person is often responsible for many different facets of university-wide communications including things such as internal communications, media relations, university-wide publicity, crisis planning and communications, Web design, marketing and branding, and design services. From examination of our peer institutions, the most common title for this individual was as a Vice President reporting directly to the President.

W: You just eliminated the Vice President for Institutional Advancement position in the spring — is this just another name for a person with the same duties?

P: No. I believe that a Vice President for Communications and Marketing will have a substantially different set of responsibilities. This position is not intended to be any sort of "catch all" position for any items that don't fit neatly within the set of responsibilities of other vice presidents.

W: Our college/department/research center just spent a lot of money on new web pages. Does this mean that Anderson Hall will provide an "unfunded mandate" that we will have to change everything when our new Vice President arrives on campus — and pay for it out of already depleted resources?

P: I am interested in setting up a centralized resource that will provide free services to our academic units and programs for any sort of communications and marketing initiatives. In order for an integrated marketing and branding campaign to work effectively, we will need to be able to address these costs centrally, have a unit which can respond quickly and efficiently, and work as a positive change agent at K-State.

W: You still haven’t made it clear why this is necessary. At the end of the day, if we do a good job teaching our classes, conducting our scholarly research, and reaching out to the State of Kansas — our colleagues across the nation will know that we are a great university.

P: I am not sure I can agree with the last statement. It is important that as we continue to be successful — whether it be our student groups winning a national competition, exceptional faculty achievement in research and scholarship, or K-State making a difference in Kansas through our extension service — we must more effectively communicate those successes to the outside world. Everyone loves a winner — and wants to invest in a winner — and when we win we need to make sure that everyone knows about our success.

As always, I am interested in your thoughts and comments — drop me a note.